Both Hubby and I are interesting in pottery, although Hubby's interest is more pottery and mine is more in other sorts of ceramics.
When we visited the Leach Pottery in St Ives in April though both of our interests collided in a great way! I knew of the work of the great potter Bernard Leach and we were both keen to visit the pottery.
There is a small museum area before you enter the old workshop area. You then go through to another room where there is a wonderful video of Leach at work and various of his students talking about their time at the pottery. If you go to the pottery, I recommend taking the time to watch the video, it was fascinating.
Then of course it is through to the shop where you can see the work of the potters who currently work there producing their own pieces and the Leach Standard Ware which the pottery became famous for.
We start off in the museum area.
There were some incredible pieces. I love these sorts of glazes and the simplicity of the pieces. They reflect Leach's time studying ceramics in Japan.
Then you move through to the old workshops and you can see the different kilns that were used at different times, for different processes and different people.
The "climbing kiln" was the first of its kind to be built in this country and is a scheduled monument. It is very important. It was built in 1923.
You can see inside these three kilns in the next three photos with some example pots on show.
There were various kinds of potters wheels used including these kick wheels.
At the end of the day Leach and the students and other workers would sit around this fireplace and talk.
Leach felt that the glazes and different ways of applying them was very important. He took a great deal of time in the work of glazing.
You can see many of the glaze samples which were worked out.
In the heyday of the pottery there were seven potters wheels being used. A potter would make between 70 and 100 identical items each day. The important part was the skill of being able to reproduce the same thing again and again. By doing this and having a standard range - called in this case Standard Ware - you could sell this easily because people knew what they were getting. This allowed the pottery to be profitable as a business which then allowed the production of other more "art" pieces of pottery.
The roof in the kiln area is amazing isn't it. There have obviously been repairs and stabilisation made with the metal braces.
The inside of this kiln is amazing, where different materials have been thrown into the kiln to glaze the pots, over time the inside of the kiln has also become glazed too!
Outside there is a small Japanese garden area which reflects the time that Leach spent in Japan.
This is a rain chain - common in Japan- which allows the water to drain from the roof instead of a normal gutter and downspout system that you might expect to see.
In the room with the video there are many more beautiful pots on display.
We then went back past the garden area. These beautiful bird baths were a gift to the pottery.
These tiny little pots are no more than about 2 inches high for the tallest of them. Despite their small size, they did not have a small price tag!
There were many other pieces though that were very beautiful.
Finally outside we saw the modern kiln area which was being set up for a firing.
Sorry that this is such a long post, so many pictures to share! I hope that you found it interesting though. You can get more information on the pottery website here.
If you are ever in St Ives I would thoroughly recommend a visit - and perhaps a purchase or too which yes, we might have made! This is what we bought.